Texas executes Tommy Lynn Sells


april 4, 2014

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A serial killer has been put to death in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his lawyers’ demand that the state release information about where it gets its lethal injection drug.
Tommy Lynn Sells was executed Thursday evening. He became the first inmate injected with a dose of newly replenished pentobarbital that Texas prison officials obtained to replace an expired supply of the sedative.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials pronounced him dead at 6:27 p.m., about 13 minutes after he was injected with a fatal dose of pentobarbital.

As he waited word on his U.S. Supreme Court appeal Thursday, Sells was kept in a small holding cell just outside the execution chamber in Huntsville, said Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Sells was quiet, reserved and accompanied by a chaplain. He had access to a phone, Clark said.

His attorneys had hoped the courts would force prison officials to reveal more information about the pharmacy that supplied the drug. They argued the new pentobarbital could lead to unconstitutional pain.

Lawyers for Sells argued, in part, that, “the increasing scarcity of execution drugs — and consequent concerns about the quality and states’ desperate efforts to keep the source of drugs secret — have become the central feature of botched executions and Eighth Amendment concerns.”

The state prison agency wants the information kept secret to protect the pharmacy from threats of violence.
A Val Verde County jury sent Sells, 49, to death row in 2000 for the December 1999 stabbing death of 13-year-old Kaylene Harris in her family’s trailer home near Del Rio. He confessed after a friend who was sleeping over that night survived having her own throat slit and helped identify him to authorities.

He later pleaded guilty in Bexar County to strangling 9-year-old Mary Beatrice Perez, who was abducted from a Fiesta event at Market Square in 1999. District Attorney Susan Reed agreed to drop her bid for a second death sentence, instead settling on life in prison, in exchange for the plea.

Court records show Sells claimed to have committed as many as 70 killings in states including Alabama, California, Arizona, Kentucky and Arkansas.

The families of both slain children were on a list to witness the execution. Kaylene’s witnesses included her father, brother and two grandmothers. Also present were the mother and grandmother of Mary.

Sells’ execution is the fifth lethal injection this year in Texas, the nation’s busiest state for the death penalty.

Source: AP, April 3, 2014
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